Teaching is stressful. Mentally, physically, and emotionally, as teachers we give our all to our students and our profession. In addition to the hustle and bustle in our classrooms, many teachers have spouses, children, parents, and friends on our minds, too. We are pulled in many directions all at once and often put others first. It’s just part of the teacher mindset. This can take a huge toll on the well-being of educators over time. Here are some tips on how to de-stress and put yourself first for a change.
1. Revisit an old hobby. You really need to make the time for things you love doing, even when you think you don’t have the time. It could be as simple as reading, or a more specialized hobby like crocheting or playing guitar.
2. Find a workout routine you love. Research is very clear that physical exercise is one of the best ways to de-stress. It’s critical that you invest time into finding a workout routine that you really enjoy doing. One that makes you feel good. That might mean you’ll need to try out several different types of exercise before you find your thing- that’s okay. I remember about a year after I started teaching, I tried out the gym. I gave it a good try but it was more torturous going there than it was even worth. While some people love the gym, it just wasn’t for me. Luckily, soon after, I found yoga, which has seriously changed my life. It helps me stay fit while keeping my mind calm. Other teachers that I know love zumba or even jogging. It’s important to experiment and find what you love.
3. Spend time away from the computer. Sometimes we think that Facebook and Instagram is downtime, but we really need time away from screens and computers. Use that time reading a book, calling an old friend, or gardening. The time spent away from a screen will help you focus on yourself and destress over time. It will also make sure that you’re not over-checking your emails.
4. Pamper yourself. Consider getting your nails done, hair styled, or even getting a massage. As teachers, we love to help others and make others feel great. We need to make sure we do the same for ourselves!
5. Spend time getting organized. Much can be said for taking even just 15 minutes to reorganize your desk, calendar, and to-do list. A great tip given to me by a fellow teacher was to make tomorrow’s to-do list for the day before you leave. That will give you a sense of control over what has to happen the next day, and will give you a jump start when you get to your desk in the morning. Another option is to reconsider how you organize your plans, emails, or papers in your room. Try a new organization strategy that will put less work on you in the long-run, such a bin for students to turn homework into or a folder/cubby for each student when work needs to be returned. It might not be relaxing while you are organizing, but it will provide you with a sense of calm and relaxation after.
6. Use a journal. Just writing about your day can help melt the stress away. Share with your journal or diary why you are stressed and how you feel. It’s an extremely positive outlet that no one else will see but you.
7. Use aromatherapy. Many scents can be extremely helpful in calming nerves and allowing you to relax. Use a plug in air freshener by your desk or light a candle at home. Lavender, jasmine, chamomile, and sandalwood are scents known to reduce anxiety and stress.
8. Draw and color. Research has recently shown that drawing for adults is similar to meditation. It might seem silly but there are even adult coloring books and free coloring materials you can find online.
Remember that what is relaxing for one, may not be for someone else. Experiment and really find what soothes your soul. You deserve it!